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  1. #1

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    Self Defense vs Combat Sports: Help Explaining the Difference

    -- Situation & Question --
    I have been a lurker for a bit, but I am currently in a strange training situation and wanted to see if people on this forum had ideas to help. Brief outline of the situation and my question are below. Details of my experiences and viewpoint provided below if you would like more information in forming your suggestion.

    Background is heavily focused on BJJ with a sprinkling of MT. Recently started taking some Krav Maga classes again for the self defense side of MA and I am troubled by what I am seeing. Their standup techniques seem fine (from what tiny bit of striking I know), but their ground work / self defense escapes are all based around groin strikes etc. As such they cant train them full speed and there is not much sparring in general. I know I am the new guy in the Krav circle, but my previous experience makes me strongly inclined to believe if you cant practice against live resistance then your chances of pulling it off when its for real go down hill fast.

    Is there a good way to bring up the sparring aspect to the instructors without sounding like a complete ass? Do all Krav schools not spar much or restrict their sparring to their upper levels only? Do they ever practice the ground stuff live?


    -- Personal Experience & Viewpoint --
    I originally got interested in MA for self defense as I imagine a lot of others did. I started MA in a stand up version that is very similar to Krav Maga in concept. It was basically full contact Karate / some ground work (instructor was a BJJ Blue Belt) / weapon defenses / dirty fighting concepts. Side note, yes I know the weapon stuff is like a 5% increase in your chances of surviving. Instructors point was I am giving you something to try in a true oh **** / no other option scenario, that is it. Anyway, I was hitting and kicking people in sparring sessions from pretty much day 1. The gym also had a solid MT program and BJJ program, so the ground work and head shots were added in which eventually evolved into MMA like sparring sessions.

    From there I got introduced to full BJJ via a challenge. Friend (BJJ) offered to let me try whatever I wanted and he would take me down and submit me. We gave it a go and I ended up on my ass / submitted three times in a row. At that point I started taking pure BJJ as well and fell in love with BJJ (other stuff was cool, I just love BJJ). I have focused on BJJ for the last 10 years while cross training a tiny bit in MT and Judo for fun. Along the way I stopped worrying about self defense. I am 190 pounds, fit, and pretty happy with my game plan for such a situation based on my hobbies.

    Fast forward to present day. I had a friend go through some experiences that caused them realize they needed to start taking self defense seriously. Given my hobbies I offered to help them figure out what was best for pure self defense. That caused me to do some research and to take a look at Krav Maga again. Said friend doesnt want to take the time that BJJ requires (I know, I know ...). I found the accredited school (KMWW) in my area and started cross training. My experiences with Krav to date have left me conflicted.

    From what tiny bit of stand up I know, their standup is fine from a technical viewpoint (elbows / knees / cross / jab / hook / low kick / etc). However, their groundwork and their self defense stuff all seem to focus on groin strikes and other things you cant do against a fully resisting opponent. In addition there does not seem to be any sparring in their Level 1 class (lasts around 6 months). My BJJ experience tells me that if you dont practice what you are learning against a resisting opponent you are fooling yourself if you think you can pull it off when you go live. That live practice over and over again is what makes the combat sports so effective in my view (BJJ, MT, etc).

    Bluntly, when I roll with my BJJ Professor there is 0 question as to who is going to win. I dont get the same feeling at all in Krav. For myself, I dont really care. I like cross training and am having fun on Krav night screwing around. However, my friend and others in class are taking Krav because they are very much depending on it for their self defense. Is there a way to bring up the need to live spar to the instructors without sound like a complete ass (remember I am the FNG in Krav)? I am concerned that those depending on this stuff are going to come up really short if they ever have to use it and they never practiced it live.

    Is it normal for Krav not to spar much at all? Basically, this stuff aint what I remember from my original entrance into MA. Ideas or thoughts?
    Last edited by Ethikos; 5/24/2017 2:27pm at .

  2. #2
    Raycetpfl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethikos View Post
    -- I am concerned that those depending on this stuff are going to come up really short if they ever have to use it and they never practiced it live.
    They likely will if their opponent is skilled,bigger,stronger or faster.

    Is it normal for Krav not to spar much at all? Basically, this stuff aint what I remember from my original entrance into MA. Ideas or thoughts?
    Krav is 95% bullshit. The 5% is reserved for the Krav people who train in a alive manner with skilled instructors. That's at best 5% I would guess.

  3. #3
    BackFistMonkey's Avatar
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    I think you are making this difficult. At least from a technical point of view. If you want to talk about awareness and risk management that is different but that isn't really what you train in a martial art for.

    Sport= excellent self defense ability from someone who knows zero dirty tricks (doesn't happen)
    Dirt = average person's knowledge of dirty ticks (sand, eye pokes, ball kicks)
    Sport+dirt= excellent self defense ability

    So we can see that sport does nothing but improve your chances to defend yourself.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghost55 View Post
    Violence is pretty uncommon in clubs in this area, and the dude didn't seem particularly hostile up until the moment he slapped me.
    “I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by WFMurphyPhD View Post
    Slamming the man in the bottom position from time to time keeps everybody on their toes and discourages butt scooting stupidity.

  4. #4
    goodlun's Avatar
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    The difference is preparedness.

    If you are going into combat, you have weapons, you have an expectation of violence, you have backup a team, and hopefully you have an idea of what you will be engaging because hopefully you have battlefield or operation intelligence. You also tend to have a very specific objective.
    Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.
    –George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence

  5. #5
    goodlun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BackFistMonkey View Post
    I think you are making this difficult. At least from a technical point of view. If you want to talk about awareness and risk management that is different but that isn't really what you train in a martial art for.

    Sport= excellent self defense ability from someone who knows zero dirty tricks (doesn't happen)
    Dirt = average person's knowledge of dirty ticks (sand, eye pokes, ball kicks)
    Sport+dirt= excellent self defense ability

    So we can see that sport does nothing but improve your chances to defend yourself.
    You forgot the:
    Dirt-sport = bullshit

    In general you don't need to train dirt, though it doesn't hurt to bring it up.
    Especially if its dirt you can do when the ref isn't looking you know, to protect yourself from dirty ass fighters.
    Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.
    –George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence

  6. #6

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Errmkay, you likely are not going to want to here this, but if you are on the mat as a BJJ practitioner for about 10 years, along with the other things that you mentioned, then you likely have more actual skills to bring to the table than your "Krav" instructor.

    The first problem is that Krav has a HUGE quality control issue. There is a LOT of very bad Krav out there, with people trying to patch their really bad Krav with crap they got from other systems. That is likely why the stand up looked ok, because whoever the instructor was likely understood stand-up fighting.

    The second problem is a complete misunderstanding about what Krav is to the people who developed it, that is the Israeli army.
    For them, it is one of SEVERAL tools that their soldiers use to fight day in and day out in a country that has been at war since its inception.
    They understand, intuitively, when and where you can do certain things in a way that is nearly impossible to communicate to someone who does not have combat experience.

    'Why does this matter?', you may ask.
    Well, for one thing, it means that most of the people teaching Krav, even the ones that do it REALLY well and have successfully USED it, in self defense, LE, or military contexts, don't really understand WHY it worked, only that it DID work.
    What that means to you, as a new student, is that you are likely being taught 3rd hand information from someone who really does not have a CLUE why they are doing what they are doing.

    It would be like taking BJJ instruction from a white belt who had just had a few lessons and just happened to be tapping the other white belts.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for all the responses. AcerTempest, your response pretty much sums up what I was afraid of and hoping I was wrong.

  8. #8

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    AcerTempest covered the gist of it but I wanted to add a few things.

    A few things to note is there are multiple versions of Krav Maga. I see you have BJJ as your background. The BJJ taught to police is a different version than the one done in competitions. It carries many of the same techniques and concepts but the focus is different because the goal is different. Krav Maga is the same with one for the military, police, and civilians. Each has a different focus though the civilian version, meant for self defense, is heavily watered down in comparison to the other two with a high emphasis on running away (since they don't need to arrest or kill the perp). So there is no way for you to experience that "seriously brutal and lethal martial art meant for taking out your enemy in the quickest and most efficient way possible" unless you join the special forces.

    Something Krav Maga has suffered is commercialization. It was that edgy 'dark arts of martial arts' thing when it came out, so a bunch of people saw an opportunity to cash in on the rising star and as a result we got a lot of McDojos in that field. Be wary that whatever krav school you go to actually does legit stuff and be wary that civilian level defense is not the military stuff that most people want when they get into krav.


    Onto your question. I'm afraid it all depends on the school. Some krav schools will have their practitioners duke it out after teaching them a technique. Some krav schools do do lie drills. They teach you a ground escape then they tell one person to escape while the other person is to keep them down there. But, many schools don't. They teach the technique on a compliant partner and call it done. And it's not just ground techniques. Knife defense, mob defense, and stick defense also fall into this category. Some schools, after teaching you a technique, will say: "Hey, here's a weapon (fake obviously). Go get him." Others will stick to compliant partners.

    Good civilian krav maga is good in a self defensive scenario but make sure you actually do a good one. Furthmore, make sure you tell your friend that there isn't a martial art in existence that will allow you to properly defend yourself without proper time, practice, and effort.

    A good way to bring it up with your instructor the need for live scenarios is through friendly discussion and 'what if' scenarios.

    So, overall, it all depends on the school. Some are started by scam artists who know they're full of crap. Others are started by the zealous students of scam artists who truly believe they are a human weapon. When I learned Krav we did sparring and live drills for just about everything we did. I've been bludgeoned by the stick enough times to learn that foam doesn't do much if your partner is swinging hard enough. But other schools don't do this at all and I've seen enough pseudo krav that makes me want to cry.

    Hope this helps.

    (PS: You mentioned rolling with your krav instructor. Something to think about is the dynamics of each martial art).

  9. #9
    Cassius's Avatar
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    I left this thread alone for a bit to see where it would go, but it is not really developing into a technical discussion so I am moving it to YMAS. I don't really know what the differences between special forces, police, and civilian Krav Maga are, but I sure am interested to learn.
    "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal

  10. #10
    BKR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodlun View Post
    You forgot the:
    Dirt-sport = bullshit

    In general you don't need to train dirt, though it doesn't hurt to bring it up.
    Especially if its dirt you can do when the ref isn't looking you know, to protect yourself from dirty ass fighters.
    I get reports back from my teenage judoka who compete at national level about dirty tricks all the time...

    Saw a shining example done to one of my students at Canadian Nationals a couple of weeks ago...

    And that's Judo, the "mutual welfare and benefit" combat sport, LOL!

    *edit* one of them happened at a training camp, during a essentially non-judo type drill. One of the guys he competes against was not doing the drill correctly, and kept trying to do Ura Nage to him.

    Almost turned into a fist fight...because my student wasn't going to get body slammed in a agility/conditioning drill.
    Last edited by BKR; 6/05/2017 5:34pm at .
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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